Homesick already?

Tina Nguyen
April 29, 2017

The first night in Japan was honestly exciting and also a bit hard for me. I didn't think I would start to feel this way until much later. I remember during one of my home university's orientation for studying abroad they mentioned how there is a cycle or series of stages that almost everyone will experience. Our feelings will fluctuate from having fun meeting new people and experiencing a new culture to suddenly just wanting to be alone. The feelings will keep going down to the point of being sad or depressed. You'll just want to be alone or go home and be with your family. A term known as homesickness. But, after awhile that bottom point will start to rise up and that's where you hit the peak, where you start to fully enjoy the cultural exchange and create memories of your time abroad. The reason for this is possibly that you began to embrace yourself and changed who you are and what you know. These stages don't follow the same pattern for everyone though. It fluctuates for everyone and everyone has their own way of overcoming it.

For me, I experienced that feeling of wanting to go back home on my first night there. I never experienced anything like that. Don't get me wrong I was having fun but the feeling was growing bigger and bigger inside of me. I noticed I got that feeling at first when I left Narita Airport but I thought it was just feelings of nervousness. Then it kept getting worse during the quick overview of orientation. I was confused at the time. Why was I feeling this way? Is it because I left my dad alone and I was feeling guilty I couldn’t be with him? Was it because I haven’t slept for a few days due to my final exams and I was just tired? Was it because everyone in the program already got to know each other and I would have a hard time fitting in? I wasn’t sure what it was. But I knew I seriously wanted to just go back home already. I was shocked at myself. Was I this weak that I already wanted to go home when I just arrived? I didn’t know what to do to make myself feel better. It just felt like a choking feeling to me. I thought I was maybe too tired so I decided to just go to sleep and unpack the next day.

The following morning my dad gave me a video call. I messaged him earlier the previous night but he only messaged once that he was at the hotel. He told me that he had gone straight to bed since he was tired. We talked for a bit and he described the hotel to me. He was explaining how he didn’t know how to use the toilet since there were so many different buttons in Japanese! It was too difficult so he just pressed all of them!! I couldn’t stop laughing! I wanted to meet up with him but he was going to fly to Vietnam later in the afternoon so there wouldn’t be anytime to look around. I regretted that we couldn’t explore parts of Japan together. After talking to him, my feelings of homesickness felt a lot better, like it had never happened. I was surprised. Just one phone call with my dad can change my feelings. To be honest, I am really thankful that my dad came with me to Japan. He only came because he was worried about me being in an unknown country and it was his chance to visit his family in Vietnam. But, it was really reassuring to know that he was here with me. What I learned is that maybe a phone/video call to your family would work if you happen to feel this way. For me, I think it was because I saw my dad’s face and heard his voice that my mood improved. I don’t think I regretted feeling this way though. I think it is part of the cultural experience to feel homesick and lonely! It made me appreciate my family even more that’s one thing for sure! Until next time then!

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Tina Nguyen

<p>Hi everyone! I&rsquo;m Tina and I&rsquo;m from California, majoring in computer science at the University of California, Irvine. I&rsquo;ve never travelled to a different country before so I hope to see where the journey takes me and hope you guys can experience it through my writings! I love learning about new cultures, trying out new foods, and traveling. I&rsquo;m, more or less, ready to get and feel lost!</p>

2017 Spring
Home University:
University of California - Irvine
Computer Science
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